Toddlers are curious and inquisitive. Their minds are developing and they’re eager to explore the world around them. As a parent, it’s really important to let them do this and guide them towards learning and developing new skills in fun ways.
These activities are designed to be simple, but useful in aiding in the development of 4-year-olds.
To begin, playdough is a classic activity that never goes out of style. There are tons of recipes online for making your own homemade playdough, but it can also be purchased at most stores.
You can show your child how to use playdough to make animals, people, or cars and then let them use their imagination to create anything they want! This versatile toy will keep your 4-year-old occupied for hours.
Any and all involvement with cooking is a good thing for kids of any age, but it’s especially useful when kids are 4-years-old. It teaches them responsibility, independence and about what goes into making the food we eat. It helps to make children more adventurous in their food choices, plus it also gives them some basic math and science skills, as well as learning about hygiene and healthy eating.
A great way to get little ones involved with cooking is by setting up a ‘kitchen’ in your home, either indoors or outdoors. This can be an entire room dedicated to their cooking needs, or even just setting up one corner of the kitchen with a child’s table and chairs, along with a few pots and pans (real or fake), wooden spoons and utensils.
You can then fill the cupboard (or shelves) with ingredients, plus whatever else you want – measuring cups or anything else that will help them re-enact what they see their parents doing in the real kitchen!
I-Spy is a popular guessing game that’s played all around the world. In this classic kids' game, one person picks an object and says “I spy with my little eye something ...” and finishes the sentence with a description of the object. The other players then guess what it is.
Playing I-Spy can help kids develop vocabulary, improve observation skills, learn colors. and learn numbers (if you use numbers as clues to describe objects). It can be played by just one or two people or by a whole group.
Legos are a perfect activity for 4-year olds. Not only will they help your child develop fine motor skills, but they'll also help them build their creativity and imagination. Lego bricks can be used to build anything your child can imagine, so it's a great way to get them to use their imagination and create something cool. Your child can also use their Lego bricks in conjunction with other toys, like cars and dolls.
Finger painting is a classic activity that has been around for generations. Not only is it great for encouraging creativity, but it also helps kids develop fine motor skills, like hand-eye coordination.
Here’s how you can help your 4-year-old get started:
Get some paint. Set up the area for finger painting by spreading out newspaper and choosing some paints in different colors. If you are concerned about your child getting messy, plastic cups with lids (like Solo cups) work well to cover the paint and keep it fresh between paintings.
Create shapes and pictures with their fingers! Your child might want to try making different shapes or maybe they’ll finger paint portraits of their family members. It’s best to let them experiment so they can have fun and come up with their own ideas rather than trying to copy something they have seen before.
A treasure hunt is a fun way to get your 4-year-old up and moving. If you're going to do this outside, decide first on the list of items your child should look for. Next, hide those items around your yard or in a nearby park. It's important that the objects are small and easy enough for a 4-year-old to find but not so tiny that they could be swallowed or otherwise cause harm if ingested.
If you have time, let your child make a list of their own objects. This will help them practice writing skills as well as goal setting and planning ahead—all very important life skills!
Ensure there is enough time to find all the objects you hide—you don't want them feeling rushed or pressured by having a set amount of time within which to complete his treasure hunt. When they find each item on their list, let them put it in their backpack so they don't lose any of them when they find more along the way. Treasure hunts can also be organized indoors with toys or other household objects hidden throughout rooms and closets within your home.
Gardening will help your child develop an interest in nature and the environment, as well as helping them gain knowledge about where our food comes from -- all while strengthening their muscles through digging around in the dirt… what’s not to love?!
- Find a sunny spot or section of your garden that would be good to plant some seeds and invite your 4-year-old to help.
- Prepare the soil, dig holes, and plant seeds or seedlings.
- Keep an eye on the garden with your child, and water it regularly.
- When the plants are ready, pick them together and eat them!
Chalk drawings on the sidewalk
A great way to help your 4-year-old develop fine motor skills while also letting them get some fresh air is sidewalk chalk drawing. This can be a solo activity or one that they do with friends. Just make sure not to let your child draw on the street, as cars may come along and ruin their work before they've had time to finish it!
The benefit of using chalk for this type of art is that there are few rules — your 4-year-old can create whatever they want. If you'd rather not have them use actual sidewalk chalk, you can also buy chalk paint in tubs and apply it with brushes instead. There is also the option to use a regular chalkboard indoors if you would prefer!
Creative Drawing and Coloring Books
Draw and color in books, on paper, with crayons, and markers.
Drawing is an activity that can encourage your child’s creativity and imagination. Drawing allows the child to express themselves through their art. It can also help them to learn and develop new skills as they grow up.
This creative activity helps children to develop fine motor skills including using a pencil or crayon properly. You can eventually have them write letters of the alphabet when they are ready.
Through these activities, your child learns how to use lines of different thicknesses, in varying directions such as horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines and how to use curves or circles in their artwork. They may start by drawing simple objects like houses or trees before moving on to more advanced drawings such as animals or people with eyes, noses, mouths, etc.
Children who enjoy drawing will love other activities related to art such as coloring in books or even creating collages from magazines cut up into chunks of color!
Watch Prosocial Movies/TV-Shows
There are many educational and prosocial shows on television and movies your child can watch. Prosocial programs are TV programs that help children learn how to identify their emotions, develop empathy, and reinforce positive social behaviors.
The more pro-social programs your child watches, the more likely they will reduce their aggressive behaviors. Even though you can't always vet every show for its content, you can use the prosocial shows as a litmus test for which ones have positive messages and help your child develop empathy. For example, Sesame Street is an excellent choice because it provides both entertainment and education with age-appropriate content.
Blue's Clues, Little Einsteins, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Sid the Science Kid, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are all recommended preschool shows that have a great message for 4-year olds.
We know raising a little one can be hard! Hopefully these ideas will help you keep them busy, but also help them develop fine-motor movements, language, and cognitive development at the same time.